“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
DIFFICULTIES ARE NOT HARD TO FIND. The average person’s life presents a thorny thicket of problems that have to be dealt with. Indeed, on some days it seems we do little more than run from one problem to the next. We can hardly get one fire put out before another breaks out somewhere else.
But out of all the things that need fixing, which one needs fixing the most? Which issue in life is the main issue? One measure of our spiritual maturity (and even our earthly maturity) is the way in which we prioritize our problems. The immature give most of their attention to problems that are of no more than secondary importance, while the more mature see the things that matter most and give their primary attention to those things. So if the way we spend our time and the problems we choose to work on are any indication, how mature can we say we are, really and truly?
Anyone who has read the New Testament will know that it takes a definite position on the question of what’s important and what’s not. Jesus put it in the form of a question: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul?” Our main problem is our broken relationship with God. As long as that problem goes unfixed, we are pathetic and profitless creatures, even if we’re able to fix every other problem in the world.
Millions of people would say “Amen” to the importance of God — but these same people spend most of their time working on issues other than their relationship to Him. Our schedule books simply don’t support our claim that spiritual concerns are No. 1 in our lives. We rush through our days, accomplishing little more than the rearrangement of deck chairs on a ship that is sinking.
The daily challenge that confronts us is not only to see what most needs to be worked on, but to keep that concern in the center of our attention and focus. In the end, it will be evident that most of the “urgent” matters that tried to claim our attention were simply inconsequential. Before it’s too late, we need to stop our frantic fixing of things “out there” and start working on things “in here.”
“It is not a world out of joint that makes our problem but the shipwrecked soul in it” (P. T. Forsyth).